You're Joking - Tom E. Moffatt - E-Book

You're Joking E-Book

Tom E. Moffatt

3,99 €


Convert your jokes into laughter!
This fun and informative book provides all the skills you need to find and deliver the perfect joke, including:

Safe searching to build a repertoire
Choosing appropriate jokes for the audience and situation
Optimising your body-language, expression and timing

Armed with 101 hilarious practice examples, your jokes will finally get the laughter and applause they deserve. Perfect for joke-lovers aged eight and up.

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You're Joking: Become an Expert Joke-Teller

Tom E. Moffatt

Write Laugh Books


Published in 2020 by Write Laugh Books

Rotorua, New Zealand

Text © Tom E. Moffatt, 2020

Illustrations © Paul Beavis, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9951210-4-1 (print)

ISBN: 978-0-9951210-5-8 (e-book)

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the National Library of New Zealand.

Cover design and illustrations: Paul Beavis

Developmental and copy editing: Anna Bowles

Proofreading: Marj Griffiths, Rainbow Resolutions

Print book and e-book design: Write Laugh Books


To Sarah, because being married to me is no joke.





How to Use this Book


Different Jokes


Know Your Joke


Exercise 1


Know Your Audience


Exercise 2


The Delivery


Exercise 3


Right Time, Right Place


Exercise 4


Joke-telling Sessions


Exercise 5


Go with the Flow


Exercise 6


Build Your Repertoire


Exercise 7


Longer Jokes


Exercise 8


The Beginning

Also by Tom E. Moffatt

About the Author




Some people make a living from writing jokes and comedy. These people – comedians or stand-up comedians – write and perform comedy shows and routines. Other people, such as that popular kid in your class or your slightly annoying uncle, just enjoy telling jokes to friends and family.

This casual form of joke-telling is the focus of this book. Those moments when someone tells a joke in the playground or at a party, and before the laughter has entirely stopped, someone else chips in with another. Suddenly we’re in one of those special joke-telling moments, where everybody is racking their brains for the perfect next joke that will have everyone in stitches.

Some people thrive in these situations. They seem to have a limitless supply of jokes that they deliver confidently and effortlessly to continued laughter. These days, I probably fall into this category. I have written hundreds of original jokes and people know this. When a joke-telling situation arises, all eyes invariably turn to me. And I am usually happy to oblige.

But this wasn’t always the case.

Like many kids, I used to love joke books. I’d request them for birthdays and Christmas, and read them aloud to anyone who would listen. But I was terrible at joke-telling. I could never remember any once I’d put the book down and I was painfully shy, so my efforts were barely audible. Even when the joke could be heard, I’d often muddle it up and say the punchline first, finding myself in that lonely laughter-free zone found at the end of a badly told joke.

That didn’t stop me from loving jokes. And I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by many excellent joke-tellers. My older brother, my friends at school, my granddad. I enjoyed hearing jokes so much that I started to collect them, writing them down in a large notebook. I’d tell them to myself when I had down time, running through all my favourites and often giggling at the punchlines. But I was still very nervous when I had to share jokes with anyone else.

It wasn’t until I was travelling the world, meeting different people every day and finding endless opportunities to practise my jokes, that I began to develop my skills. My confidence grew and I started remembering all the jokes I’d collected over the years. Suddenly, I found myself loving the limelight. I’d initiate joke-telling sessions whenever I could and continued to gather fresh jokes for my collection. I eventually began writing my own jokes, too.

This just goes to show that joke-telling is a skill. And like all skills, it can be mastered with practice. If you read through the tips in this book, memorise some of the jokes and practise telling them, you will develop that skill. It won’t happen overnight. But with a little effort, you’ll find yourself looking forward to the next spontaneous joke-telling session. And when you’re in the midst of it, you’ll wait for that pause in the laughter. You’ll say, “I’ve got one…” There’ll be a moment’s silence while your audience looks your way, hoping to hear a well-told joke that they can pass on to others. But, more importantly, hoping to laugh.

And you won’t disappoint.

How to Use this Book

You’re Joking: Become an Expert Joke-teller is more than just a joke book. It’s an instruction manual that also provides you with 101 jokes to hone your skills. Each section contains basic tips and information, followed by practice jokes and exercises, and ending with a reflection. The jokes are numbered from 1 to 101, so you can jot down the number, rather than the whole thing.

As with regular joke books, you can dip in and out as you please, sharing funny jokes when you discover them. However, the instructional tips and exercises build on each other, so you will get the most from this book if you read it from start to finish. This is not a school assignment, so you don’t need to complete every single exercise if you don’t want to. But practice makes perfect, so the more you use this book to help you practise, the closer you will get to becoming an expert joke-teller.

Different Jokes

What is a Joke?

This might sound like a bit of a stupid question, but jokes actually come in many shapes and disguises. However, in its basic form, a joke is something you say to make someone laugh. It’s generally made up of two parts – the setup and the punchline. The setup introduces the topic and leads the audience in one direction. The punchline (or punch) is a short delivery that changes the direction of the joke and gives the audience a surprise, hopefully making them laugh at the same time.

Different Types of Jokes

There are many types of jokes and humour. Enough, in fact, to fill several books. We are only going to focus on the kinds that you might hear in the playground or read in a joke book.


The shortest joke is the one-liner, where both the setup and the punch are delivered in a single statement, usually within one or two sentences. A joke of this kind takes on the appearance of an ordinary statement or observation, until the punch turns it on its head.

1. I wondered why the football was getting bigger and bigger. And then it hit me.

2. Diarrhoea is hereditary. It runs in your jeans.

3. Statistically speaking, six out of seven dwarfs are not Happy.

Question-and-Answer Jokes

These are the most common jokes in a joke book. The setup comes in the form of a question, and the punchline is the response.

4. What did one eye say to the other eye?

Between you and me, there’s something that smells.

5. Why do cows wear bells?

Because their horns don’t work.

6. Why can’t cats sing in key?

They always eat the tuner.

Knock-knock Jokes

While these are technically question-and-answer jokes, their continuing popularity demands a section of their own. As you probably know, a knock-knock joke starts with a person knocking on an imaginary door. The audience – or pretend resident – says Who’s there? This is when the joke-teller delivers the setup: a name or object that is supposedly at the door. The audience then says, “Name or object who?”, allowing the joke-teller to hit them with a punchline that usually begins with their chosen name or object.

7. Knock, knock…

Who’s there?


Anita who?

Anita use your bathroom.

8. Knock, knock…

Who’s there?


Bean who?

Bean waiting here for ages. What took you so long?

Longer Jokes

Some jokes take on the form of a story, complete with added details and actions. This long setup leads you towards a short, sharp punchline.

9. Little Ghost was so terrible at haunting houses he decided to go back to school to learn how to do it properly. On the first day, the teacher taught the class how to fly through walls. After working on it for nearly an hour, he asked, “Is there anyone who hasn’t got the hang of it yet?”

Nervously, Little Ghost put up his hand.

“Don’t worry,” the teacher said. “Look at the whiteboard and I’ll go through it again.”

Shaggy Dog Stories

Beware the shaggy dog story. These take on the appearance of long jokes, except that they use excessive detail to make the ‘joke’ unnecessarily long. Then, just when you’re hoping for an awesome punch to make it all worthwhile, they purposely fail to deliver.

I once heard the following ‘joke’ told by a friend. While he was telling it, I was rather impressed. I mentally noted down all the key points, so that I could add it to my collection. But then I heard the terrible punchline and no amount of punching myself would make me forget it.

10. One morning, a boy walked into school with an orange for a head. All the kids gathered round him, pointing and laughing.

“What the heck happened?” someone eventually asked.

“Well,” said the boy, “it’s a pretty funny story. I was rummaging around my garage, looking for parts for a go-cart, when I found this rusty old lamp. I thought it might be worth something if I cleaned it up, so I grabbed an old rag off the bench and gave it a rub. A flash of light filled the room and out popped this wispy little green fellow. In a squeaky voice he said, ‘I am the Greenie Genie and I grant you threeeee wishes!’”

“What did you wish for?” someone asked.